Of Wickedness And Narratives

Narratives are funny things, but there’s a certain consistency to them from decade to decade, even from century to century. In the organizational world (including the visible church), those persons, departments, coalitions, or factions perceived as narrow, precise, and conservative are usually considered to be less than ideal—not good for flourishing, to put it in 21st-century speak. Organizations, especially those structured along modern lines, seek self-perpetuation and growth. The biological-business concept “If you’re not growing, you’re dying” is modern conventional wisdom. And the acceptance of this wisdom is not confined to secular organizations.

A religious organization’s immune system—especially one informed by revivalism—may learn to react strongly against anything deemed narrow, precise, and conservative. Good intentions (reaching the lost, transforming the city, keeping the church alive, not “losing the young people”) create an exigent impulse to change, adapt, and innovate. As for those who question the wisdom or intentions of innovators; those who wave the standard of, well, the standards a little too vigorously; those who point back to history and raise the red flag—such persons are placed within the narrative under the label of “divisive.”

Conservatives are presumed divisive. While their efforts to slow the advance of innovators or erect fortifications of defense are considered inconvenient or unpleasant, any offensive action to push back an assault is met with howls of foul play and harsh condemnation. Conservatives are, the narrative goes, the problem, the obstacle to peace and flourishing. Such a thing is happening even now in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), but there is ample evidence that the divisiveness is actually coming from the “progressive” or “beautifully orthodox” side, not from the conservative side.

For instance, in the PCA in 2022 a sizeable faction believe it is not just unenlightened but divisive to oppose the radically innovative “Side B” movement, which assumes homosexual attractions rarely change, accuses the church of horrific homophobia, and finds positive good in some aspects of homosexual culture and identity. This movement, personified by PCA minister Greg Johnson and embodied by the Revoice Conference, would be controversial enough if it involved only church members, but the Side B movement promotes full inclusion in church life, including all church offices and pastoral roles. Read more»

Brad Isbell | “A Word On Narratives” | February 4, 2022


    Post authored by:

  • Heidelblog
    Author Image

    The Heidelblog has been in publication since 2007. It is devoted to recovering the Reformed confession and to helping others discover Reformed theology, piety, and practice.

    More by Heidelblog ›

Subscribe to the Heidelblog today!